How to be a Good Neighbor & Get to Know Them (Without Being Pushy!)

When you move into a new house, you may feel a little isolated at first. Why? Because you don’t know your new neighbors yet!

These days when we’re all attached to our phones around the clock, it’s not as common as it used to be to meet and interact with the other people in your neighborhood. And it can be difficult to know how to be a good neighbor without coming across as needy or pushy.

At Addition Financial, we recognize that a sense of community is essential when you’re settling into a new house. We asked some real estate experts for advice and discussed amongst ourselves. Here are some suggestions to help you break the ice with your new neighbors.

Send an Introductory Email

We may not be able to make in person introductions as we socially distance, but that doesn’t mean you can’t introduce yourself to your neighbors.

If your neighborhood has a homeowner’s association, you may have access to a group email address. You can use it to send out a quick introduction. Consider adding a photo of your family and pets and telling people you’ll be happy to say hello and get to know them.

Take a Walk

This tip comes from Mike Glanz, the CEO of HireAHelper.com. He says:

“If you have kids or pets, take them to explore, to meet their neighbors and become familiar with their new environment.”

We love this suggestion. Taking a walk around the neighborhood is a great way to let everyone in the family get familiar with the lay of the land and learn their way around. You can pinpoint landmarks such as the closest playground and dog park. At the same time, you’ll probably see a few of your neighbors in their yards or on the street.

Even if you feel a little shy, we suggest introducing yourself to people. If you have kids, introducing yourself to other parents can pave the way for your kids to make friends in the area. And – let’s face it – parents need support too. It will be helpful to know who’s in the area and who your child’s future pals may be.

Host a Neighborhood Event

One of the time-honored ways to get to know your neighbors in a new house is to invite everyone over for a BBQ or happy hour. That’s a suggestion made by Brian Davis, the Director of Education at SparkRental.

As of the time we’re writing this post, Florida is under a stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t organize and host a neighborhood event!

Many of us at Addition Financial are staying connected with our families and friends via video conferencing on Skype or Zoom. Some of the creative ideas we’ve heard about include:

  • Hosting a virtual dinner party where everybody cooks their own dinner and then meets in Zoom to eat and chat. (This also works for brunch or lunch!)
  • A virtual happy hour where the invitees bring their own drinks and you all toast one another from a safe distance.
  • Virtual birthday parties.

We can’t think of a single good reason not to host a virtual housewarming party. You can either invite people in person as you walk around the neighborhood or send a group email if that’s an option. It’s a great way to get to know each other’s names and faces.

Another option might be to get everybody together in an open area where you can maintain appropriate distances of at least six feet. Just make sure you’re not in violation of any local laws or statutes.

And, of course, when the danger has passed and we can socialize again, you can follow up with an in-person party to seal the deal.

New Homeowner Monthly Expense Worksheet

Get Out Front

When you spend time in your yard, are you normally in your backyard? Most of us are because the backyard offers more privacy than the front yard. However, the front yard offers some specific benefits that the backyard just can’t match.

Isara Ongwiseth of FormLA Landscaping offers this advice:

“Be out in front: We tend to retreat to the comfortable privacy of our back gardens. Simply being out in the front garden, engaging in something other than noisy mowing and blowing can make you approachable. In normal times, patio space in the front garden provides a comfortable space to chat with those you don’t yet know well. Now, it supports chatting from a safe physical distance.”

It seems so simple and that’s why we love this advice. If you have some Adirondack chairs or nice lawn furniture, put it out front! Bring some toys and games for the kids or a deck of cards for yourself, and enjoy the Florida sunshine.

We’ve found in our own neighborhoods that people are spending lots of time outdoors. Sitting in the front of your house can make it easy to introduce yourself to your neighbors and chat with them from a safe distance.

Get Involved in Neighborhood Activities

There’s no rule that says you need to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to learning how to be a good neighbor. Sometimes, it’s as easy as showing up.

A lot of neighborhoods have homeowner’s associations that organize events When you move in, make sure they have your email address or phone number.

Keep in mind that activities may take different forms. It might mean attending an in-person event, but it might also mean doing someone a favor. For example, we’ve heard of HOAs that are organizing to get necessary supplies to people who can’t leave their homes.

The idea is that participating in activities can help you get to know your neighbors and show them that you’re interested in being part of a community. That’s something that will serve you well as you get settled into your new home.

Offer Thoughtful Gifts

If you watch old television shows, you’ve probably seen several scenes of neighbors welcoming someone new to a community with an array of gifts – the traditional “welcome wagon.” While that idea might seem a little old-fashioned, there are some thoughtful gifts you can offer to your new neighbors.

Isara made a suggestion in this area, too. She says:

“Offer produce: Adding a sidewalk adjacent edible garden or fruit trees brings you to the front garden and means you always have something to offer a passing neighbor. This is well known to create neighborly relationships in normal times – now, it can save vulnerable neighbors life-threatening trips to the grocery store.”

We love this idea! Florida is a great place for gardening due to the year-round warm weather. If you’re lucky enough to move into a home with an existing garden or fruit trees, then you can take advantage of that to offer some fresh produce to your new neighbors.

But, even if your new home doesn’t have a garden or fruit trees, you can still plant things! Find some gardening websites or videos, study up on which plants do well in our humid climate and ask for advice.

Of course, fresh produce isn’t the only thoughtful gift you can offer. If you bake or do your own canning, you can put together thoughtful gifts for people from your kitchen. Or, if you’re the crafty type, you can offer gifts you made.

The point is to get creative and be thoughtful. People will appreciate and remember your generosity and gifting your new neighbors with something nice is a great way to break the ice.

Ask For Advice

Our final tip is one you can use when you’re out walking around and when someone passes your house, or on your HOA email list. It’s a simple one: ask your new neighbors for advice.

For example, if you have a dog, you might ask a fellow dog-owner for a recommendation of a veterinarian or groomer. You could also ask about setting up a playdate for your dogs.

If you have a neighbor who gardens, you could ask for a little gardening advice about the soil in the neighborhood. Or ask someone with a perfect lawn what they do to achieve such beautiful results.

The same goes for people who have kids. You can ask where their kids take karate lessons or which preschool their children attended. There’s really no limit to what you can ask other parents. Kids are a great icebreaker!

Here again, we encourage you to get creative. Even something as simple as complimenting a neighbor’s shoes can lead to a conversation and – ultimately – a new friendship.

There’s no one correct answer to how to be a good neighbor. Our best overall advice is to be yourself. Not every neighbor will turn into a good friend, but if you make yourself accessible and open, the chances are good that some of them will.

Ready to partner with a community-based credit union as you settle into your new neighborhood? Click here to learn about the benefits of Addition Financial membership!

The content provided here is not legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. Please consult with legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific needs or questions you may have. We do not make any guarantees as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not support any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability or legal obligations for your use of this information.

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